The Jersey Shore Ice Cream Shop is for dogs only. Bone appetite!
Visitors to the Jersey Shore love their ice cream and when a new store opened in Stone Harbor last month, it was “the bark” of the city.
Unique toppings such as dehydrated chicken, dehydrated liver and steak n ‘sweet potato flavored bones are the perfect combinations for a wide variety of ice cream flavors that have made every customer drool.
Welcome to Salty Paws, an ice cream bar and dog bakery that claims to be the first of its kind in New Jersey.
On a recent Saturday, the 96th Street store was bustling with all breeds of dogs, along with their humans, stopping in to see what it was and taste the lactose-free frozen treat. Prices range from $ 4.99 for one scoop to $ 6.99 for three scoops at $ 1 per garnish.
“No dog leaves unhappy,” said owner Donna Kokol, watching the dogs wait patiently – well some wait patiently – for their ice cream to be served.
Banana, bacon, and peanut butter are just a few of the eight ice cream flavors to choose from. And seven different types of toppings, like dehydrated sweet potato chips or peanut butter yogurt – a doggy version of sprinkles or jimmies – complete the treat.
Kokol, from Avalon, visited the first Salty Paws store, located in Delaware, about three years ago and eventually bought out the franchise.
“I walked one day and fell in love with the concept,” she said of her first visit.
A doggy ice cream shop was the vision of Pennsylvania resident Suzanne Tretowicz, who founded her first store in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, after noticing people feeding their dogs frozen treats on the boardwalk.
“I thought to myself how creative it would be to open an ice cream shop just for dogs,” Tretowicz said. Its ice cream is said to be healthier for dogs than the lactose-based version intended for their owners.
His idea was so popular that people started asking about franchise opportunities. About a year ago the ball started rolling and now Stone Harbor is the third franchise to open.
“We’re still pretty new but it’s moving really fast and people love it,” Tretowicz said.
Kokol decided to open her shop in Stone Harbor because it is a city where dogs are welcome, and in January she found a store on the main street of the city.
“If you’re in Stone Harbor, you want to be on 96th Street,” she says.
By late afternoon, Salty Paws had a steady stream of customers. The sound of dogs’ fingernails trying to get a traction on the smooth floor while trying to greet a new friend echoed throughout the store.
Paul and Kate Corey, of Sea Isle City, were two of the few customers who entered the store without a dog.
“I’m not a dog lover,” said Paul, a former newspaper delivery man who has had his fair share of close encounters with man’s best friend at work. “Mostly a couple of German Shepherds,” he laughs.
But that didn’t stop them from supporting the new business in town and buying some bones for the dogs they know.
The first step in the dog’s journey to the ice cream bar is the bone section. Stuffed bones filled with flavors like beef, liver, chicken and butter and peanut jelly are just a quick sniff from the front door.
Then it’s the main course, the ice cream.
Kylo, a super dog, 1 year old – a mix of Husky, American Eskimo and German Shepherd – was eager to try his ice cream while waiting with both paws on the counter.
Its owners, Andrew Napoleon and his wife Alison, of Wildwood, chose the banana ice cream and placed the cup on the floor as they ordered a cup of flavored bacon for Rey, their one-year-old German Shepherd.
It didn’t take long for Kylo to spread his ice cream on the floor and it only took a few seconds to lick it.
In this bar, eating on the floor is encouraged.
“It’s so beautiful I would love to try it for myself,” said Andrew.
Macklin, a 1 year old super dog, who happens to be Kylo’s brother, had blueberry ice cream. He seemed rather happy with the flavor his owner Emily Gannon had chosen.
“I think it’s like our equivalent to a cafe,” said Gannon, a Cape May resident. She is thrilled to have a store like this to bring her dog as Cape May’s choices are limited.
Of course, Gannon couldn’t leave the store without some extra treats for his dog. “I had some of the stuffed bones, bacon and cheddar cheese, as well as peanut butter and jelly.
The bakery section, filled with cookies and donuts – all made with human grade ingredients – are sugar-free and mostly made with peanut butter and chicken coated in yogurt. And what looks like chocolate is carob, a dog-safe alternative to chocolate.
“I have to say that the drink cookies have been a big hit,” Kokol said. Drink-shaped cookies – Grrrona Extra, Quarantini, and Pawtron – are just a few of the popular cookies available in the store.
According to Tretowicz, the shop – which also hosts fundraisers, birthdays and ice cream parties – will soon have necklaces, leashes, beds, toys and new flavors of ice cream. And a wooden bar.
“Nature’s perfect chewing,” said Tretowicz.
Outside the store, a crowd gathered to watch the many dogs happily eating their cups of ice cream that their owners held for them.
For 4-year-old mixed-race lifeguard Callie, peanut butter got her full attention.
“Callie seems to be a happy customer, doesn’t she?” said Christine Krynock of Stone Harbor as she watched her dog tumble down her ice cream.
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Tim Hawk can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Tim on Instagram @photog_hawk.
Lori M. Nichols can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Lori on Instagram at @photog_lori.